Girl in Bristol returns to her hometown on the 4th June 2014 to visit the new community cafe/bar.

A couple of years after departing from my beloved home town, Facebook erupted with photos and statuses which raved about the new Hawkes House. A café/ bar which had opened in the neighbouring town of Thornbury after taking over from the ‘regulars only’ pub, The Barrel. After venturing in for a few brief coffees previously, I finally got around to trying out the grub on a quiet Tuesday evening in June.

Hawkes House’s interior certainly matches its café/bar nature. The stone walls, outdoor area and large wooden beams which originate from its pub origins adhering to that much-desired rustic feel. However, in place of the grotty stage and rundown bar which was also there before, a huge renovation project has transformed Hawkes into what can only be described as an extensive lounge-like set up. I particularly liked the different levels where the floor is raised in some areas allowing you to somewhat remove yourself from the rabble of people coming through to access the bar. There are also a number of sofas, leather armchairs and carpeted floor which make Hawkes all the more home-y. The neutral/teal colour scheme used tasteful and minimalistic, thereby ensuring the venue isn’t too ‘in your face’ nor explicitly predisposed towards a certain type of customer.

As for the staff, the young waitresses who vacate the bar are friendly and helpful. Jumping to attention when anyone saunters up whilst maintaining a chilled out presence which keeps with the surrounding atmosphere Hawkes (I presume) have been trying to create.

It was also great to see there is a seasonally changing beverage special at Hawkes which, on the occasion I went, was a lime and lemonade drink. A non-alcoholic beverage that was refreshing and slightly fizzy with a lot of chopped up limes in the bottom of the glass. There were also your standard coffees and countryside ciders on tap for any who wanted a drink as opposed to a full-blown meal of which there were a few that evening.

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As for the food, I’ll admit I was a little disappointed by the lack of veggie options. Looking at the specials menu on the blackboard by the door there were literally no options without meat and on the mains menu the only two veggie options were salads. Not filling enough for me and my BIG appetite. However, in the tapas menu I found my salvation. Serving three tapas dishes with bread and a choice of fries or salad for a mere £7.50, it was the cheapest tapas deal I’ve come across in Bristol to date. Yet the quality of the food was not at all compromised, the Blue cheese fried mushrooms, Baba ganoush with grilled ciabatta and Prawn, avocado and chilli bruschetta that I had, all divine in flavour and well presented on a wooden platter. The latter dish had to be my particular favourite though. I do love avocado! Although I did wish there was a little less bread. With tapas stuff that good, you really don’t need ciabatta with the dish and as a side. More of the actual prawny, ganoushy stuff without bread would have been better.

As for the rest of the table, they went for the meaty options. The pulled pork hotdog loaded with cheese (£8.50) and the pulled pork bun with fries (£6.50) were the two favourites. And, I may be a vegetarian but I can certainly say that hotdog was a stonker! You could literally have fed the 5000 with that thing. The fries and ‘slaw also went down well and the table told me the meat was of a fine-tasting quality. However, two of our table did have to leave the buns so that they could fit in all that meat!

In all, I have a lovely meal at Hawkes. The ambiance was just right and well suited to the idyllic town Hawkes House is based in. The venue is appropriate for any kind of customer and the food is of good quality and quantity for the price. If you want good pub grub (or something a little out of that category) in a proper countryside town, Hawkes is a worthwhile visit. Just hop on the 309 or 310 bus from the centre and make a day of it!

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